Why the Jermain Taylor Show Should Not Go On

By Cain Bradley on October 16, 2014
Why the Jermain Taylor Show Should Not Go On
Jermain Taylor was one of the brightest American talents at the turn of the century.

Taylor has had his happy ending with the title win. Let’s hope he walks away before the ending takes a severe turn for the worst…

“And the new…” words every professional fighter dreams of hearing. Nine years after his first world title win against Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor would hear the words again. His most recent success would come on the 9th October against Sam Soliman, capturing the IBF Middleweight title. The Australian would injure his leg in round 7 which changed the fight. Unable to put pressure on his right leg, Soliman would be put down four times and lose a unanimous decision. The injury was one which surely changed a close fight into a convincing win for Taylor.

Taylor had come off four straight wins but was still considered to be the underdog despite having age on his side. His four wins came against opposition with a combined record of 94-29-9. Two of them fought Taylor coming off losses and Caleb Traux managed to knock Taylor down. The fight was an incredible bit of matching by Al Haymon who was looking to get in on the spoils in the middleweight division. Soliman is a desperately awkward fighter but one who does not really sit down on his punches which meant the punch resistance, or lack of for Taylor, did not factor in the fight. He was still tentative and his punches seemed to lack the pop off years gone. Taylor mustered enough offense in a poor first half of the fight to stay level before the injury gave Taylor the ability to knock Soliman down with glancing blows. Despite this Taylor could not manage to finish the wounded Australian.

Just over seven years prior to his win against Sam Soliman he also showed an inability to finish a wounded opponent in a middleweight title bout. This came in markedly different circumstances as underdog Kelly Pavlik showed an incredible chin and heart to survive a second round barrage from Taylor before stopping Taylor in the seventh. The champion was stopped by a younger, hungrier boxer. It is a surprisingly common narrative over recent years in the middleweight division. Jermain Taylor, Kelly Pavlik, Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto have all come in as the boxer with seemingly more hunger and drive, each overcoming the champion. Taylor would get his rematch with Pavlik. A cagier fight, the first ten rounds were about even before the power of Pavlik told late on and he got the unanimous win. With the defeat at a weight Taylor was struggling to make he decided to move up to super middleweight and challenge Carl Froch for the WBC super middleweight title. Taylor would impress for a large part of the fight entering the last round up 106-102 on two scorecards having knocked down Froch for the first time in his career. The Brit would show his fighting instincts by rallying to stop Taylor in the twelfth. His next fight would be Arthur Abraham as part of the Super Six. Taylor would once again start strong but the power of Abraham would begin to tell as he took over on the cards before eventually stopping Taylor in the twelfth. Taylor had lost four of five bouts and would take an extended career break.

“And the new…” were words that saw his life change in 2005. Bernard Hopkins had ended 2004 as The Ring Pound for Pound number one and Jermain Taylor was the fresh upstart taking on the best. He came out and worked on the front foot, doing enough good work, despite Hopkins neutralizing his jab. He won a controversial split decision, bringing home the middleweight title to Arkansas where a parade honored his accomplishments.

Jermain Taylor was one of the brightest American talents at the turn of the century. An amateur with numerous titles, he would win a bronze medal in the Sydney Olympics at the age of 21. His professional debut saw him fight Chris Walsh, who had a record of 17-4-1. It showed not only the confidence of Jermain but the talent, stopping him in the fourth. He would rise through the ranks culminating in the Hopkins defeat. The rematch would be held later that year and once again it would see Taylor win a close decision. Taylor was measured and did not allow Hopkins to counter or use the clinch as effectively. His first defense was against Winky Wright, coming off wins against Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley twice. He had not lost since a controversial decision to Fernando Vargas in 1999. Another tight fight, it featured plenty of rounds which could have been scored either way as they exchanged big shots. He would also beat Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks putting himself in position for the Kelly Pavlik fight. At the end of 2006, prior to Spinks and Pavlik he was ranked number 4 by The Ring in their Pound for Pound rankings. Taylor was a star of American boxing with a fighting attitude that welcomed big fights.

Being willing to take big risks was arguably the big problem as Taylor stepped in the ring with numerous guys known for the ability to hit hard. After losing three of five fights by big knockouts Taylor would not be seen in the ring for 26 months. Worryingly the Arthur Abraham right hand that ended the fight would lead to a severe concussion. Many observers stated the inability of Taylor to remember the fight and subsequent bleeding on the brain. Taylor did pass a number of tests at the Mayo Clinic and Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health before bring licensed. Team Taylor argued he was in as much danger as any fighter, a point disputed by a former chief ringside physician for Nevada State Margaret Goodman. The potential long term damage to his brain seemed to become increasingly real as a video was posted on social media showing an erratic Taylor. Casual observers note Taylor was showing signs of Traumatic Brain Injury. To add to the craziness, on August 26, police were called to the home of Jermain Taylor where he was charged with two felonies. It was revealed that Taylor had shot his cousin in the leg involving him and a friend. Given you are presumed innocent until proven guilty Taylor was allowed to compete in his most recent fight despite the chance of a prison sentence. Although this does follow the principle of the laws, it would be highly unusual to see a sportsmen awaiting trial compete.

Jermain Taylor is at this point a walking disaster waiting to happen. Whether it be outside the ring where he has shown himself to be a danger to those around him and himself or inside the ring where he is a world champion. Sport has often provided people with a chance at a great life, but has often ignored the danger signs around competitors, especially those with head injuries. Jovan Belcher, War Machine and Edwin Valero have all been terrible cases of what happens when someone who gets hit for a living loses it. No one wants to see Jermain Taylor lose it in such a way. Just as worrying is the case of Stephan Johnson who died from injuries suffered in the boxing ring. The middleweight division may not be as impressive as it once was but the chance of Taylor running into a puncher is high. The mandatory challenger is Hassam N’Dam. N’Dam tends to box on the outside and outbox his opponents, although even he showed his power when knocking down Curtis Stevens. Al Haymon has two other fighters in the division, Peter Quillin and Daniel Jacobs. If Haymon thinks Taylor will lose to N’Dam then he will probably look to match him up with Jacobs or Quillin. Both are young, hungry fighters. Quillin has over 70% stoppage ratio whilst Jacobs has stopped 25 of his 28 opponents. Frankly the thought of either of these guys throwing bombs at Taylor scares me. Jermain Taylor has had his happy ending with the title win. Let’s hope he walks away before the ending takes a severe turn for the worst.

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Jermain Taylor vs. Sam Soliman

Arthur Abraham vs Jermain Taylor

Carl Froch vs Jermain Taylor

Jermain Taylor vs Kelly Pavlik 1

Bernard Hopkins vs Jermain Taylor 2 full fight

Bernard Hopkins vs Jermain Taylor 1

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  1. bikermike 05:36pm, 10/21/2014

    Wonder what the naysayers say….after Taylor wins ??

  2. Cain Bradley 03:54pm, 10/18/2014

    I completely agree. It’s a shame to see what has happened to Taylor and I really hope it stops now rather than after a huge shot which could worsen what is already a pretty serious issue

  3. An objective observer 04:59am, 10/18/2014

    At one time Jermain was real joy to watch and had a great back story with a nice family. For some reason he was compelled to go “street.” He got all tatted up, began talking like a thug, and acting like a jerk. Something possessed him into being involved in a shooting, for which he faces serious charges. This is a tragedy already, and it is only going to get worse. The decompensation of a once talent and likable person is progressing rapidly and underneath all the faux thuggery, Taylor is a really nice person.  What a sad story.

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